Outrage After US Comedian Kicks Breastfeeding Woman, Baby Out Of His Show

US Comedian Arj Barker has come under fire after he asked a mother and her baby to leave his stand-up set at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. According to New York Post, the incident happened on April 20 when Trish Faranda was attending the comedy show with her seven-month-old daughter Clara and a friend. After Clara made a few gurgling sounds, Mr Barker stopped and later cracked up a few jokes about the situation. However, after a while, he approached the mother again due to the disturbance.

”I was breastfeeding when he came and stood in front of me and he was telling me to leave,’ Trish said. ”People were laughing and I don’t think he was joking. So I said to him, do you want me to leave? And he said, “Yes I do,” Ms Faranda said. After she exited the show, a few others also staged a walkout in solidarity.

Heated debate on social media

The incident also triggered a heated debate on social media. While some said that the woman shouldn’t have brought a baby to the show, a few others slammed the comedian, stressing that being a new mother is hard and he should have shown some compassion.

Australian politician Ellen Sandell tweeted: ”I am livid at hearing this. It’s hard enough for new mums to participate in society with all the barriers put in front of them – to be humiliated like this, for just trying to enjoy the comedy festival, is awful.”

Another defended the comedian and said, ”I’m a parent and I think he was right to ask her to leave after she failed to consider the other paying audience members. Most comedy shows are not much more than an hour. Organize a babysitter or don’t go.”

Comedian defends his decision

Meanwhile, the US comedian stood by the ”awkward” decision, telling people that ”the baby was disrupting my performance” and that he ”politely told her the baby couldn’t stay.”

“The baby wasn’t crying and screaming, but in the Athenaeum, sounds (does) travel and you can hear the drop of a pin. The woman didn’t even know if I was serious, and I said ‘I wasn’t (joking). I made the decision for the audience who wanted to see the show and also I shouldn’t have been in that position, it’s a 15+ show,” he said.

He later shared another elaborate statement on Instagram. “It’s unfortunate about any embarrassment it caused her or her family, but again, had the show policy been adhered to, this situation would not have occurred,” he said. He also offered the woman a refund for the ticket.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, a different attendee of the show said that the ”baby was making a bit of noise, as babies do”. The attendee, named David told SMH that ”as people were laughing, the baby started making baby noises and maybe a whinge I suppose” which is when Barker asked the woman to take the baby outside.

The woman’s reaction

Ms Faranda said she felt “humiliated” and “unwanted” after she was kicked out of the show. She told A Current Affair she had been looking forward to the comedy festival.

“You kind of lose yourself a bit in motherhood. You are so focused on everybody else’s needs that you don’t have time for your own,” she said.

She also claimed that her baby ”wasn’t screaming” and also hit back at critics who said she shouldn’t have taken a young child to the show. ”She wasn’t screaming, she was just being a baby, she gurgled a little bit, she had a bit of a whinge… nothing loud,” the mother said. Ms Faranda further said that she intentionally booked seats at the front of the theatre and to the side so she could make a quick dart to the exit if her baby got too rowdy.

Comedy festival’s statement

In a statement provided to ABC News, a Melbourne International Comedy Festival spokesperson said: “Arj is independently produced and at a venue not managed by the festival, however, any interaction between performers and their audiences requires sensitivity and respect.

“In our festival managed venues, babes in arms are generally allowed but we do ask people to sit up the back with their child so they can quickly and easily leave if the baby gets noisy, so as not to disturb the artist and other patrons.”

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